Door and window controls company Geze was founded in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1863. Since then, it has expanded and now has subsidiaries in 23 countries, including the UK, and more than 150 sales offices around the world.

The company has a turnover of about *340m (£231m) and 1,860 employees worldwide. In 1959, it moved to its current headquarters and main production site in Leonberg, Germany. Andrew Hall, managing director of Geze UK, reveals how the firm fits into the UK market.

Describe your market

We’re actually in four markets. We operate at the high end of the manual door control market, selling overhead controls and floor springs through specialist architectural ironmongers. That’s one of our larger markets. Our second is automatic doors, including sliding, revolving, swing and folding doors, which we sell directly.

The third and fourth markets are much smaller – window controls for smoke venting and fittings for toughened glass.

Who are your main competitors?

Our main competitor is Dorma, another German family-owned firm. Dorma’s range is similar to ours and we both operate at the quality end of the market. We are the Mercedes and BMW of door controls.

How does your business operate?

The business is split into two. There is the distribution side, which involves selling manual door controls and glass fittings. Then there is the contracting side, which is our design service. We talk to the architect about the entrance, offer solutions, do the CAD drawings, design the entrance, make it and install it.

Who tends to specify your products?

We have relationships with architects, who say: “We’re designing this building – can you do the entrance?” Our strategy is to be specified early, so we can work on the drawings from concept stage through to the end, but it doesn’t always work like that.

Some doors are not specified in detail – they are just labelled as automatic doors on drawings and go out as part of the tender package. The contractor then tries to source them as cheaply as possible. Often we send surveyors to provide a quote and that’s when it gets competitive – it’s difficult to sell the benefits of our doors against those of others.

What sets your company apart from its competitors?

The quality of service we provide. I know everybody says that but, in the automatic door business, the quality of installation and the service you offer is paramount to your success. We have people in the sales force who spend a lot of time speaking to contractors and maintaining relationships. You must have the product that’s fit for purpose, but after that it’s down to people.

Which sectors are busiest at the moment?

The healthcare and schools sectors are particularly busy at the moment as there’s a lot of government money going into them. Our biggest project outside London is the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham, where we’re involved in manual door closers and automatic doors.

We’ve also done a lot of work on stadiums: we did all the doors on Wembley stadium and also worked on the Emirates stadium.

Bus stations are another area in which we’ve been working recently. For safety reasons, they are now putting screens along platforms. We’re installing a loop in the ground that triggers the doors to open once a bus pulls into the station and halts.

What has had the biggest impact on your sector recently?

The Disability Discrimination Act, launched in September 2004, caused a rise in the automatic swing-door operators market but this is coming to an end.

Looking ahead, the Olympics is obviously big news in the South-east. The Olympic village alone will have 60,000 doors and a control on pretty much every one. Obviously, disabled access will also be critical.